Montana Audubon Center News
July 2021
Photo credit: Hank Jagodzinski

June was a busy month for the Center! Our milkweed patches are buzzing with all kinds of pollinators. Summer camps took off with themes such as Fishing and Fort Building, Nature Detectives, Seeds to Sprouts, Discovery Girls, and Minecraft Mania. Campers can be seen all over the Center staying cool with water games, canoeing, pulling invasive species, assessing pond macroinvertebrates, and playing in nature. Volunteer camp assistants are joining the fun while helping the summer camp counselors. Other volunteers have helped sheet mulch and plant sagebrush in our west end area. Citizen scientist volunteers are pulling all-nighters and capturing moths. The Native Plant Symposium had its last set of workshops for the season - soil health and a plant walk. Billings Pollinator Week was a success! The Center had a flower walk around the gardens and had a couple booths at the St Andrew Pollinator Festival. We are seasoned and ready to have more fun in July!

Miranda Hernandez
Conservation Steward
Big Sky Watershed Corps Member

Moth Project

Pictured above left: Moths collected by citizen scientists at the Center.
Right: Volunteer Izzy is covered in moths!

Volunteers are staying out late at the Center to collect moths. This year a citizen science project focused on collecting moths has taken off. Volunteers stay up late collecting moths and separating them the next morning. Moths are funneled into an inescapable bucket, or lured to an illuminated sheet where they are scooped up. Monitoring moths is part of a Montana wide inventory focused on figuring out who is out here and what trends we are seeing. Volunteers say it has been interesting to observe the beauty and diversity of moths that have been right alongside us all along.
Invasives in the Watershed

A healthy ecosystem is composed of a variety of shrubs and trees. Native shrubs and trees in our local riverside ecosystem include Cottonwoods, Junipers, Snowberries, Currants, Wild Roses, Green Ash, Boxelders, Chokecherries, and Dogwoods. Our local Yellowstone riverside ecosystems are endangered by a few invasive plant species. When an invasive species is introduced to an area it has advantages over, it can outcompete and displace the native flora. This can be seen at Riverfront Park, where Buckthorn has formed dense thickets. Russian Olive is similar. This beautiful small tree can outcompete cottonwood trees, an important tree for large birds to nest in. Although these invasive trees can provide habitat and food for wildlife, it is at the expense of other native flora in an important ecosystem. To support your local ecosystem, opt for plants that are native to your area, particularly Montana. Birds at the Audubon Center love the unripe berries of Chokecherries and Currants. Nuthatches and other birds love frolicking through Cottonwood stands. Do your research, and avoid buying potentially invasive plants.
Learn more: Montana Audubon - Russian Olive
Montana Field Guide - Russian Olive
Montana Public Radio - Buckthorn
We're Hiring!

Early Childhood Teacher-Naturalist
The Montana Audubon Center is seeking a responsible, enthusiastic professional to assist in growing our early childhood program, including our Fledglings Nature Preschool. As one of the only Nature Preschools in Montana and a member of the Natural Start Alliance, Fledglings is founded on the idea that kids learn best through play and hands-on experiences. The ideal candidate will be able to work year-round, both for the school year preschool program and our Fledglings summer session (2022).

Teacher-Naturalists (school and other programs)
Teacher Naturalists form the core of our program staff at the Montana Audubon Center, responsible for implementation of hands-on, experiential, nature-connected education and interpretive programs at our 54-acre site and adjacent Yellowstone River corridor. Participant ages range from toddler to adult, with the bulk of our programming focused on upper elementary students. Teacher Naturalists must be comfortable leading groups of students in the outdoors and themselves have enthusiasm for connecting with and learning about the natural world.

A Special Thank You

We have had so much generosity from individuals and organizations the past few months. We are overwhelmed and ecstatic with appreciation. Whether it is advice, manure, participation or plants, the support of our community is helping us grow! Shout out to all that given us their time, attention or in-kind donations. In no particular order:

Mary Mullen
Megan Poulette, Rocky Mountain College
Cynthia Jesse, Songbird Community Garden
Rocky Mountain Compost
Canyon Creek Nursery
Steve McConnell & Nick Miller, Billings Parks and Recreation
Lumberjaxx Tree Services
Mark and Volunteers, Chief Plenty Coups State Park
Custer County Conservation District
Yellowstone River Parks Association
Bob Mackin
Wild Birds Unlimited
Peggy and Robert McSweyn
Chuck Bushey
Community Programs

We are pleased to be able to offer community programs that get you and your family outdoors, enjoying the Montana Audubon Center! Please join us!

Chimney Swift Night Out
Thursday July 8, 2021 from 7pm-TBD
Celebrate citizen science with us while we learn about chimney swifts with experts from Montana Audubon. The program will start with a free pizza dinner and ice cream. Then, we'll discuss the project and how you can participate before heading out to look for swifts just before sunset. Participants will have all the skills and knowledge they need to continue collecting data independently through the summer. Program is free and open to all ages!

Bat Night Hike
Friday July 30 from 8:30 - 10 pm
Dive into the mesmerizing world of bats! Join Megan O’Reilly from Fish, Wildlife and Parks to learn cool bat facts, then head out with special acoustic equipment to find them. Bring a flashlight and good walking shoes. 
Suggested donation $5/person

Open House
Every Saturday 9am - 1pm from June through August
We are excited to offer our weekly Saturday Open Houses this summer! check out the Center, our grounds, and talk with a staff member. Explore and enjoy the great outdoors. Ask a naturalist your essential questions about animals and plants. Borrow field guides, insect nets, and binoculars. Or get in a canoe and explore the ponds (suggested donation $10/canoe or free for members).

Nature Nuts Preschool Program
Every Tuesday 10 - 11am
Nature exploration comes naturally, especially for little kids! Children ages 1 to 4 (and an accompanying adult) join our teacher naturalists for guided outdoor play and learning about the local area. Advanced Registration Required

July Themes:
July 6th- Canoeing
July 13th- Nesting Together
July 20th- Creepers and Crawlers
July 27th- Turtle Time

Suggested donation $5/child or free for members

Bird Stroll 
Saturday July 10 from 8:30 - 10am 
Enjoy a morning stroll by the river and learn a few birds along the way. Great for beginning birders. Binoculars and guidebooks available to check out. 
Suggested donation $10/adults, $5/students, or FREE for members

Weekend Wonders Family Program  
3rd Saturday of the month from 9:30 - 11am, July 17th
These naturalist-led programs are designed for all ages of explorers. Every month features a different topic that will get you and your family outdoors, learning about the plants and animals in our big backyard. 

Suggested donation $5/person or free for members
Advanced registration required, Registration Here (to be posted soon!)

Walk with a Naturalist
Tuesday July 27th from 6:30 - 8pm 

Summer is in full swing! Join us to make observations, follow our curiosity, and share naturalist knowledge with each other. Each month we’ll explore a different natural area in and around Billings. This month we’ll meet at Two Moon Park, a county park along the Yellowstone River in the Heights. Escape from the heat during this walk among the cottonwoods on the banks of the Yellowstone River. Please bring any naturalist tools you like to use (binoculars, field guides, magnifying glasses, journals, etc.). We’ll also have some equipment you can borrow. 
Suggested donation $5-10/person. 

Learn more about our COVID protocols for programs here.
Volunteer Updates

Community Volunteer Days
Drop in and join us for community volunteering. We will have an assortment of tasks for volunteers to help us with. Tasks are often oriented around enhancing, developing, or maintaining the landscape. We also have computer work available. Pictures of pollinators, plants, and of the Center grounds are needed. A variety of tasks are available for all accommodations. Everyone welcome. RSVP encouraged, drop ins available first 10 minutes. Sign up here or contact Emily

Saturday Restoration Work Days, from 9-12pm
  • July: 10th & 24th

Tuesday Work Days, 4-6pm
  • July: 6th & 20th
We Need Your Help!

We are looking for a pickup truck in good condition that can be used for land restoration, grounds work, and maintenance projects on site at the Center. Our current truck is on its last legs! Do you have a pickup truck to donate? Let us know! More info & sign up on our website, click here.
Time to Renew or Join!

Become a member of Montana Audubon Center today!
Benefits include:

Free entry to recurring programs
Free canoe use at Saturday Open Houses
Discounts on classes and programs
Early registration for select programs
Montana Audubon printed newsletter (2x/year)

Not to mention the joy of supporting the high quality outdoor, nature-based programs that reach thousands of people yearly, in Billings, Montana. 

Membership levels start at just $30/year

For more details and to sign up to be a member, visit our website.
Thank you!

Thanks so much to all those who share in our vision and our work - we truly
couldn't do it without you and your support. Thank you to the following individuals, organizations, and corporations that made contributions to our programs, including through membership, in the month of June. 

Stephanie and Joel Hecker
Rhonda Stennerson
Megan Hawbaker
Kristin Neva
Martha Burton
Cora Leland
Amy Oakland
Nancy and Dale Detrick
Judy and Lary Garrison
Staci and Ryan Grimm
Paul and Sheri Schultz
Dana Andersson
Cynthia and Terry Jessee
Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming
Sunshine Nicholson
MaryAnn and John Bottman
Christina Kouzmanoff
Heather Trusty
Andrea Bushnell

A bee on Showy Milkweed
Montana Audubon Center